Finding our holes in Holy Week: if Jesus couldn’t attract everyone, should we?
“Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.”
— Matthew 21:8 NLT
Different translations give a different percentage of the people who acknowledged Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on the day we celebrate Palm Sunday. The Basic English Translation is the only version I found that says, “All of the people put their clothing down…” (I’m assuming this means all the people put SOME of their clothing down!) Other translations vary from “A very great multitude” to the Contemporary English Version which says “Many people”.
Most translations convey this: not everyone acknowledged the entry of the King. We can rationalize. Some had to be caring for the very sick, or had other jobs keeping them from the scene. Except for the translation I already mentioned, the gist can be startling. Not everyone turned out for this significant event.
Part of the crowd had come with Jesus from Galilee. Another group, still excited by the recent resurrection of Lazarus (John 12:17), arrived from Bethany. These two sets of followers met by a fresh crowd pouring out from Jerusalem. Imagine what this literal crossroads looked like. Different people with different perceptions, stories, and experiences mingled. What did they say to one another? What was overheard?
Their messages are our messages. As we mingle in streets, stores and other places over the next seven days, what are we saying to others about Holy Week? If Jesus didn’t get everyone present, should we?
Yes, we should. While I do not know the percentage of people present during Jesus’ triumphant entry into the Holy City, I do know our words matter. Our actions matter. Our reactions matter. We are going to see all kinds of people this week. Getting them ‘present’ means we should be present to them. Do not be daunted by what you cannot control; live for what you can. Make a difference. Say the right thing. Do the right thing. Be the right thing. Everyone matters. Everyone counts.
Look not to others when it comes to bolstering the crowd. Look to you. Offer your coat to someone. Make that difference.
I am one waving to You in the crowd. Help me see those around me, especially those in the quiet corners. If I don’t all out wave to them, I can at least meet them—and love them—eye to eye, heart to heart. Help me make Holy Week Holy.